CHICKASHA — The Latta Lady Panthers imposed their defensive will on ninth-ranked Vanoss during the first quarter of an all-area matchup Thursday afternoon at the Class 2A Area Tournament at Chickasha High School.
But from that point on, Vanoss freshman Emrie Ellis and the Lady Wolves were the ones getting defensive.
Vanoss outscored Latta 37-17 over the middle two quarters and eliminated the Lady Panthers 48-38. Ellis finished with 21 rebounds and an incredible 18 blocked shots for the Lady Wolves. She scored eight points, just missing a triple-double.
“Emrie was huge in the paint. Collectively, we did a good job defending after a brutal first quarter and caught a few breaks along the way,” said Vanoss head coach Jonathan Hurt. “We made some timely shots and a few defensive adjustments that helped us get the win.”
Vanoss improved to 23-6 and was scheduled to meet Hollis in another 2A Area elimination game Friday. Latta’s season came to an end at 17-13.
Latta nearly pitched a first-quarter shutout. Vanoss was 0-for-6 from the field with four turnovers before Ellis hit a 15-foot jumper with nine seconds left. The Lady Panthers led 8-2 heading into the second period.
“Latta came out strong and we knew they would. Coach (Bruce) Plunk had his girls prepared and they took it to us early,” Hurt said.
Shelby Garrett got free inside and scored the first basket of the second quarter to put Latta ahead 10-2.
Vanoss then used a 17-4 burst to bolt to a 19-14 lead. Caitlin Byrd hit a pair of 3-pointers and Rileigh Rush added a triple of her own in the huge VHS turnaround, while Ellis and Lizzy Simpson each scored four points.
Garret’s steal and layup got Latta with 19-18 in the final minute, but Rush buried a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer to put Vanoss head 22-18 at halftime.
Latta tied the score at 22-22 when Emma Epperly and Shaylee Senkel scored the first two buckets of the third quarter.
However, Vanoss finished that period on a 17-3 surge that put the game away.
Simpson drained the first two 3-pointers of her varsity career on back-to-back possession to start the pivotal VHS run and Rush added five points during the spurt.
Byrd stopped and popped from 14 feet away at the horn to put Vanoss ahead 39-25 heading into the fourth quarter.
Two free shots by Simpson put the Lady Wolves on top 44-29 at the 3:41 mark of the final frame.
Rush finished 4-of-4 from 3-point territory and 5-of-7 overall and scored a team-high 14 points for Vanoss. Byrd added 13 points, while Simpson finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Latta got 15 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots from Epperly. Kendra Hisaw added eight points.
The Wolves won comfortably despite hitting just 4-of-15 free throws. Latta finished 10-of-16 from the charity stripe.